Reporting Rob Schmitt
BEVERLY PARK (CBSLA.com) — Most people drive around when they’re shopping for a house but L.A.’s rich and famous fly.
When surveying multi-million dollar estates there’s no better way to get a lay of the land than with Heli-Realtors, who take their high-end clientele on a helicopter ride over the property.
Reality TV star Lisa Gastineau recently took to the skies with Heli-Realtors to check out a prime residence in Beverly Park.
“This is Beverly Park? What an amazing perspective!” Gastineau said.
Heli-Realtors co-founder John Mowatt, a long-time pilot and realtor, decided to merge his passions a few years ago.
“Why can’t we do both, have fun, make some money,” Mowatt said about the moment he conceived his business plan.
Mowatt’s idea was a good one but it came at a bad time for the economy and for Southern California real estate. It was 2008 and the recession was in full force.
He teamed up with upscale realty firm Sotheby’s and provided them five helicopters for showings.
Sotheby’s agent Julian Ledesma said the first-class flying experience is mostly about saving time, cruising over L.A. traffic as they head to a location across town. A trip from Burbank to Santa Monica takes just 10 minutes by helicopter.
And, many of the properties have a backyard big enough to handle a helicopter landing.
The enterprise might seem like a big expense but the commission on the property sales more than covers it.
“You can put them in the chopper, show them the houses, give them what they’re paying for,” Ledesma said.
Many of the A-lister clients appreciate that the helicopter helps them “fly under the radar” and avoid paparazzi.
Some potential buyers have had an issue with Heli-Realtors – their fear of flying.
Gastineau got a little nervous when the helicopter left the ground
But Mowatt said, with a laugh, that it just brings everyone closer together: “They bond with you faster. They’re really in your hands in a helicopter. You quickly make friends.”